In preparation for our time at the upcoming Ultimate Culture Conference we are featuring a series of tips about culture, culture change, brand & culture and culture challenges.
Edgar Schein, Professor Emeritus with MIT Sloan School of Management, is known for popularizing and writing about culture. His books on culture include the Corporate Culture Survival Guide and Organizational Culture and Leadership. In an interview with Culture University, he defines culture as, “the sum total of everything an organization has learned in its history in dealing with the external problems, which would be goals, strategy, how we do things, and how it organizes itself internally.”
There is a pattern in the actions and activities that lead to high performing, agile cultures. When an organization consistently builds and reinforces such a culture, it creates a competitive edge.
We’ve talked with multiple clients in a variety of industries and a range of sizes. They are all struggling with a common issue, “how do we continue to produce positive results now while we build for future success in a changing environment?” The answer is in the essence of who they are. It’s all about their culture.
Culture is the shared patterns of belief and behavior that create an outcome. When it’s time to change the outcome, it’s time to change the culture. You cannot define a new strategy and expect success without addressing culture.
Three Simple Steps to Culture Alignment Success:
- Step One: Assess – where you are and how you rate against other high performing cultures to get an accurate understanding of your current reality. An assessment will reveal your organizational strengths.
- Step Two: Define – your future reality; what strengths you will build on and what needs redefined or restructured to achieve the future reality. Many organizations are recognizing the need to be agile or adapt to a variety of changing environmental factors. This requires culture change to incorporate new beliefs and behaviors
- Step Three: Align – what you do and what you say. To achieve culture change there are a series of alignment steps that support employees as they build on strength and transition to new beliefs and behaviors. Maintaining this alignment is one of the most challenging aspects of culture change. It requires continuous reinforcement and realignment.